Asian Herbs

Asian Herbs
anise basil
anise basil
This is used in Southeast Asia.
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bai-toey
bai-toey
This name is also used for screwpine leaves. Bai-toey leaves are about four inches in diameter, and smell a bit like a dentist's office. Look for them in Southeast Asian markets.
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betel leaf
betel leaf
The Vietnamese wrap beef in these leaves, while others chew them like gum.
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chile leaf
chile leaf
This herb isn't nearly as hot as the chile that comes from the same plant. It's sometimes used as a cooking green in Southeast Asia.
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Chinese chives
Chinese chives
Unlike regular chives, these have flat leaves and a distinct garlicky flavor.
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flowering chives
flowering chives
These come from the same plant as Chinese chives. They're usually marketed and cooked before the buds open.
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holy basil
holy basil
This has jagged leaves. It's fairly pungent, so it's rarely eaten raw.
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kaffir lime leaf
kaffir lime leaf
A kaffir lime leaf look as if two glossy, dark green leaves were joined together end to end, forming a figure-eight pattern. Most Thai recipes count each double leaf as two separate leaves. Frozen kaffir lime leaves are a good substitute for fresh. Dried leaves are much less flavorful, so use twice as many as the recipe calls for if you're substituting them for fresh leaves.
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la-lot leaf
la-lot leaf
These are used as meat wrappers in Vietnam.
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laksa leaf
laksa leaf
Vietnamese sprinkle this herb on their laksa soups. It has a strong, minty, peppery flavor. It's sold in bunches with lots of pointy leaves on each stem.
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lemon basil
lemon basil
This has a lemony flavor, and small, pointed, fuzzy leaves. Thai cooks toss it into soups, salads, and noodle dishes.
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lemongrass
lemongrass
Thai cooks use these grayish green stalks to impart a lemony flavor to their dishes. Remove the outer leaves, then use about six inches of the base, discarding the top and the very bottom. It's best to cut lemongrass into large pieces that can be easily removed after the dish is cooked. Frozen lemongrass is a good substitute for fresh, but dried lemongrass (soaked in hot water) is only a fair substitute. Use powdered version (called sereh powder) only in a pinch.
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mitsuba
mitsuba
The Japanese use this to flavor soups and salads.
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rice paddy herb
rice paddy herb
Vietnamese and Thai cooks use this herb in soups and curry dishes.
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screw pine leaf
screw pine leaf
These sword-shaped leaves are about two feet long. Look for plastic bags of folded leaves among the frozen foods in Asian markets.
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sesame leaf
sesame leaf
This comes from the same plant that gives us sesame seeds. Koreans use them to wrap packets of meat or as a fresh herb.
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shiso
shiso
The Japanese mostly use this pungent herb to flavor pickled plums. It comes in two colors: red and green.
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sweet Asian basil
sweet Asian basil
This has a pleasant anise flavor, and is the most commonly used basil in Thailand.
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Thai basil
Thai basil
Thai basil has purple stems and flowers. It has a milder flavor than holy basil.
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tia to
tia to
These leaves are purple on one side and green on the other. They have a pleasant, peppery flavor that tastes a bit like cinnamon. Vietnamese cooks often add them to soups at the last minute.
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yellow Chinese chives
yellow Chinese chives
These are Chinese chives that have been shielded from the sun in order to stifle the production of chlorophyll. Use them just like ordinary Chinese chives.
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